THE HISTORY OF MOONLIGHTING
AND HOW IT ALL BEGAN
MOONLIGHTING – AN INTRODUCTION
This Emmy Award Winning American Comedy Drama Television show, Moonlighting aired on ABC from March 3, 1985, to May 14, 1989. The show aired a total of 67 episodes. (The Pilot was classed as two episodes). The stars were Bruce Willis who played David Addison and Cybill Shepherd who played Maddie Hayes as Private Detectives. Allyce Beasley played their quirky receptionist, the glue that kept them together. The show was a mixture of drama, comedy, mystery and romance, and was considered to be one of the first successful and influential examples of Comedy Drama, or “dramedy”, that emerged in the eighties as a distinct television genre.
You can’t have a successful show without a very catchy music theme. The show’s theme song was co-written and performed by jazz singer Al Jarreau and became a huge hit. The show is what skyrocketed Bruce Willis’s career as he was offered the role of John McClane in the blockbuster Die Hard in 1987. The show is also credited with relaunching Cybill Shepherd’s career after a string of lacklustre projects.
One of the most memorable episodes “The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice” was ranked number 34 on the 1997 TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.
In 2007, the series was listed as one of Time Magazine’s “100 Best TV Shows of All-Time“. The relationship between the characters David and Maddie was also included in TV Guide‘s list of the best TV couples of all time.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE FIRST EVER EPISODE – THE PLOT
The series revolved around two characters, Madolyn “Maddie” Hayes (Shepherd) and David Addison Jr. (Willis) and the cases they investigated. Maddie’s agency was called the Blue Moon Detective Agency because in her previous life as a model, she was known as the Blue Moon Shampoo girl for the commercials she had done. The show, with a mix of mystery, sharp overlapping dialogue, and sexual tension between them, introduced Willis to the world and brought Shepherd back into the spotlight after a nearly decade-long absence. The characters were introduced in this two-hour Pilot Episode.
The show’s storyline begins with a series of financial reverses of Maddie Hayes, the former model who finds herself bankrupt after her accountant embezzles all her liquid assets. She is now left saddled with several businesses she didn’t even know she had. The businesses were maintained as tax write-offs, one of which is the City of Angels Detective Agency, which is currently being run by the carefree David Addison. Between the pilot and the first one-hour episode, David is constantly trying to persuade Maddie to keep the business so that they can run it together as a partnership. The agency is then renamed Blue Moon Investigations because of Maddie formerly being the spokesmodel for the Blue Moon Shampoo Company. In many episodes, she was recognized as “the Blue Moon shampoo girl,” if not by name.
The creator of Moonlighting, Glenn Gordon Caron says in the audio documentary for the Season 3 DVD, that the inspiration for the series was a production of The Taming of the Shrew that he saw in Central Park, New York, which was played by Meryl Streep and Raul Julia. The show parodied the play in the Season 3 (and very expensive) episode “Atomic Shakespeare.”
- Cybill Shepherd as Madolyn “Maddie” Hayes, a chic, smart former high-fashion model. Left bankrupt when her accountant embezzles her money, she is forced to make a living by running the detective agency she owns as a tax write-off. Using her celebrity as a former model, she brings in clients and tries to bring some order to a business previously run without any discipline whatsoever. Glenn Gordon Caron says that by the time he had written 50 pages for the pilot to the show, he realized he was writing the part for Cybill Shepherd. Caron sent her the script and as soon as she read it, she said that she immediately “loved it” and knew that Madolyn Hayes was a part that she wanted to play. Shepherd, Caron and Producer, Jay Daniel arranged to meet at a fancy French restaurant in Los Angeles to discuss it further. During this meeting, she remarked that it was reminiscent of a “Hawksian” comedy. The two had no idea what she was talking about, so she suggested they screen Twentieth Century, Bringing Up Baby, and His Girl Friday, three of her favorites, to see how the overlapping dialogue was handled. A week before shooting of the pilot began, Caron, Shepherd, and Willis watched both of these movies, to study the overlapping dialogue.
- Bruce Willis as David Addison, a wise-cracking detective running the City of Angels Detective Agency. Faced with the prospect of being put out of business and losing his job, he convinces Maddie that they lost money only because they were supposed to and talks her into rebranding the agency and going into business with him as her partner. It was a long fight for Caron, who had to fight with ABC to hire Willis for the lead role, having already signed Shepherd for the pilot and series. Caron claims he tested Willis about a third of the way through over 2,000 actors, knew “this was the guy” immediately, and had to fight through twice as many more acting tests and readings while arguing with ABC executives before receiving conditional authorization to cast Willis in the pilot. According to Caron, ABC did not feel that viewers would find any sexual tension between Shepherd and Willis believable. In a recent interview Grace Chivell and Shawna Saari on Moonlighting the Podcast, he said that the network did not want the two leads to get romantically involved as no-one would believe that Maddie would fall for someone like David.
- Allyce Beasley played Agnes DiPesto, the agency’s extremely loyal, thoughtful, and quirky receptionist. Agnes loved her job and her employers and took it upon herself to always answers the phone in rhyme, while at the same time offering the agency’s special daily offers. In season two, it is revealed that she lives at 6338 Hope Street. As problems arose with getting Willis and Shepherd on screen due to personal issues and problems behind the scenes, the writers began to focus on the relationship between Agnes and fellow Blue Moon employee Herbert Viola. In the series finale, Agnes berates Maddie and David for not being able to figure out their relationship. This happens as the entire set is dismantled. She leaves by saying, “if there’s a God in heaven, he’ll spin Herbert and me off in our own series.”
- Curtis Armstrong as Herbert Viola, who started at Blue Moon as an employee from a temp agency. The producers brought Armstrong in to play the role based on his work in Revenge of the Nerds, and Better Off Dead. Their vision was in the hope of expanding the role of Agnes DiPesto by giving her a love interest. This in turn would take some of the pressure off Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd. He portrays another very loyal employee who looks up to David Addison and believes he is his greatest mentor. As Herbert begins to shine in his duties, (because he has been delegated many) he gets promoted to junior detective. His debut was in season three in the episode “Yours Very Deadly”. It was not planned that he would stay on, but he went on to appear in 36 of the series’ 67 episodes.
- Jack Blessing as MacGillicudy, a Blue Moon employee who became a foil for Viola and a rival for DiPesto’s affections. Debuting in season three, he appeared in 17 of the series’ 67 episodes. He made a memorable appearance in the episode “Here’s looking at you Kid” which was a parody of the 1942 American romantic drama file Casablanca. Blessing played the role that Paul Henreid portrayed in the original, Mr Victor Laszlo. Perfect casting as he resembles Henreid in many ways in the episode.
The series was created by Glenn Gordon Caron, one of the producers of the similar Remington Steele, when he was approached by ABC executive Lewis H. Erlicht. Erlicht liked the work Caron had done on Taxi and Remington Steele. Erlicht’s vision for the new series was a detective show featuring a major star in a leading role who would appeal to an upscale audience. Caron wanted to do a romance, to which Erlicht replied “I don’t care what it is, as long as it’s a detective show.”
The tone of the series was left up to the production staff, resulting in Moonlighting becoming one of the first successful TV “dramedies”— dramatic-comedy, a style of television and movies in which there is an equal or nearly equal balance of humor and serious content. The show had constant fast paced, overlapping dialogue between Shepherd and Willis, harking back to classic screwball comedy films such as those of director Howard Hawks. Due to the high standards held by production and the innovative dual qualities, this resulted in its being nominated, for the first time in the 50-year history of the Directors Guild of America, for both Best Drama and Best Comedy in the same year (both in 1985 and 1986)
MOONLIGHTING BROKE THE FOURTH WALL
Moonlighting frequently broke the fourth wall, with many episodes including dialogue that made direct references to the scriptwriters, the audience, the network, or the series itself. (For example, when a woman is trying to commit suicide by jumping into a bathtub with a television playing The Three Stooges, Addison says, “The Stooges? Are you nuts? The network’ll never let you do that, lady!”) Another snippet shows David Addison watching “The Bride of Frankenstein” in his office munching on a bowl of popcorn with his remote sticking out of it. As the Bride does not want to have anything to do with Frankenstein and walks back to her doctor who created her, Addison says; “Sure she wants a doctor, they all want doctors.”
Cold Opens sometimes featured Shepherd and Willis (in character as Maddie Hayes and David Addison), other actors, viewers, or TV critics directly addressing the audience about the show’s production itself. These cold opens were originally borne out of desperation as a way to fill airtime, since the dialogue on the show was spoken so quickly and the producers needed something to fill the entire hour. One example was the first episode of Season Two, “Brother Can You Spare a Blonde” where they introduce the viewers back to another season and Maddie gets angry because the reason, they have to do this cold open is because he talks too fast and that’s why the show is too short. In some episodes, the production crew and sets become involved in the plot.
The series also at times embraced fantasy; in season two, the show aired “The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice,” an episode that features two lengthy and elaborately produced black-and-white dream sequences. David and Maddie are told about a murder that occurred in the 1940s by the inheritor of the then-famous nightclub “The Flamingo Cove” where the murder took place. Maddie and David feud over whether the man or woman who was executed for the crime was the real murderer. The two dream sequences present each detective’s version of how the murder took place. They were filmed on black-and-white film stock so that they would look like true period films. After filming was complete Caron says that they had problems trying to find a developer to develop the film, as they did not want to take the liability if it didn’t work. He eventually got MGM labs to develop the film. (On the commentary on the DVD, it is said that they used black-and-white film instead of color so that the network would not later use the color film.) It’s an episode frozen in time, back in the 40’s, the set design, the period costumes, the big band and their instruments, the film noir lighting and cinematography by Gerry Finnerman, and directed by the very talented Peter Werner.
Fearing fan reaction to a popular show being shown in black and white, ABC demanded a disclaimer be made at the beginning of the episode to inform viewers of the “black-and-white” gimmick for the episode. This mimicked the concern of MGM when The Wizard of Oz was released as the first twenty minutes of The Wizards of Oz was in black and white, as well as minutes at the end of the movie. Moonlighting’s producers hired Orson Welles to deliver the introduction, which aired a few days after the actor’s death. He died seven days after the recording. Part of his dialogue was “gather the kids, the dog, grandma and lock them in another room. Then sit back and enjoy this very special episode of Moonlighting.”
“Atomic Shakespeare” features the cast performing a variation of The Taming of the Shrew. David plays the role of Petruchio, Maddie plays Katharina, Agnes plays Bianca (Katharina’s sister) and Herbert plays Lucentio. The episode features Shakespearean costumes and mixes the plot with humorous anachronisms and variations on Moonlighting’s own running gags. The characters perform the dialogue in iambic pentameter, and the episode is wrapped by segments featuring a boy imagining the episode’s proceedings because his mother forced him to do his Shakespeare homework instead of watching Moonlighting. This episode was written by Jeff Reno and Ron Osborn who were regular writers on the show. Caron later said that this was one of the few scripts that he didn’t make many changes on. The only change he made was the ending.
MOONLIGHTING IS FULL OF REFERENCES
In addition, the show mocked its connection to the Remington Steele series by having Pierce Brosnan hop networks and make a cameo appearance as Steele in the episode “The Straight Poop.” The show also acknowledged Hart to Hart as an influence: in the episode “It’s a Wonderful Job,” based on the film It’s a Wonderful Life, Maddie’s guardian angel (played by Richard Libertini) showed her an alternate reality in which Jonathan and Jennifer Hart from the earlier series had taken over Blue Moon’s lease. Although Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers did not appear in the episode, Lionel Stander appeared in this episode and reprised his role as the Harts’ assistant Max.
Both Shepherd and Willis sang musical numbers throughout the duration of the show. In “The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice,” Shepherd performed both “Blue Moon” in Maddie’s dream sequence and “I Told Ya I Love Ya, Now Get Out” in David’s, while in “Atomic Shakespeare,” Willis sings The Young Rascals, “Good Lovin”. While filming this scene, Willis had a high fever however soldiered on and filmed the scene. Willis also frequently broke into shorter snippets of songs, such as Money but the Beatles, and “Tighten Up” by Archie Bell and the Drells. All these songs appeared on the Moonlighting Soundtrack.
The episode “Big Man on Mulberry Street” centers around a production dance number set to the Billy Joel song of the same name. The sequence was directed by musical director Stanley Donen and featured the very talented dancer Sandahl Bergman. Willis and Bergman rehearsed for many days for the dance sequence which was a dream sequence for Maddie as she has just found out that David was previously married, which was a bombshell for Maddie, not mention the viewers.
MORE PRODUCTION INFORMATION
Moonlighting was unusual at the time for being one of only three shows, due to FCC regulations limiting the practice, to be owned and produced in-house by a broadcast network (NBC’s Punky Brewster and CBS’s Twilight Zone Revival being the others). This allowed the network greater flexibility in budgeting the show since the “back-end potential” for profits was so much greater with not having to pay a licensing fee to the film studio or independent production company. As a result, ABC gave Caron a lot of control over production. Caron, who was only 31 at the time, however, was a perfectionist and viewed Moonlighting as the filming of a one-hour movie every week. He insisted on using techniques usually reserved for big budget films. To capture the cinematic feel of the films of the 1940s, for example, he would prohibit the use of a zoom lens, opting instead to use more time-consuming moving master cameras that move back and forth on a track and require constant resetting of the lights. Diffusion disks were used to soften Cybill Shepherd’s features, and a special lens needed to be employed so that in a two shot, Maddie would be diffused, and David would not.
Much of the credit for this look and feel can be attributed to the hiring of Gerald Finnerman as the Director of Photography. Finnerman, a second-generation cinematographer, was brought up in the old school of cinematography by working with his father, Perry Finnerman, and later as a camera operator for Harry Stradling on such films as My Fair Lady and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Finnerman would then go on to be the director of photography for the TV series Star Trek and was responsible for creating much of the mood in that show by employing black-and-white lighting techniques for color film. This background meshed perfectly with Caron’s vision for the series and earned him an Emmy Nomination for the black-and-white episode “The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice”. Hired for the show after the pilot was shot, Finnerman would become involved in virtually every aspect of the show including the scripts, lighting, set design, and even directing some of the later episodes. He went on to work on 58 of the 67 episodes.
Typical scripts for an average one-hour television show were approximately 60 pages, but those for Moonlighting were nearly twice as long due to the fast-talking overlapping dialogue between Maddie and David. While the average television show would take seven days to shoot, Moonlighting would take from 12 to 14 days to complete. This is partly because episodes and dialogue were frequently being written by Caron the same day they were being filmed. This attention to detail contributed to Moonlighting as being one of the most expensive television shows being produced at the time. Where most episodes would cost around $900,000 to produce, Moonlighting was running nearly double that.
The season 2 episode “The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice” could have been filmed much more cheaply by being shot in color and then decolorized, but Caron insisted on the authentic look of black-and-white film which took 16 days to shoot, bringing the cost of the episode to the then-unheard-of sum of two million dollars. Caron often defended his filming practices in the name of giving the audience what they wanted and producing a quality product. He used the following analogy to illustrate the point, “The thinking in television which makes no damn sense to me, is that a half hour of television costs X, and an hour of television costs Y, no matter what that television is, it strikes me as an insane hypothesis. The parallel is, you’re hungry, whether you go to McDonald’s or whether you go to ’21,’ it should cost the same; they both fill your stomach. It’s nonsense.”
All of this attention to detail resulted in production delays and the show became notorious for airing reruns when new episodes had not been completed in time for broadcast. The first two seasons of Moonlighting focused almost entirely on the two main characters, having them appear in almost every scene. According to Cybill Shepherd, “I left home at 5 A.M. each day. Moonlighting scripts were close to a hundred pages, half again as long as the average one-hour television series. Almost from the moment the cameras started rolling we were behind schedule, sometimes completing as few as sixteen episodes per season, and never achieving the standard twenty-two.
Glenn Gordon Caron partly blamed Cybill Shepherd for production problems:
“I don’t mean to paint her as the sole bearer of responsibility for the discord. But if I said to you, ‘You’re going to have a great new job – it’s a life-defining job – but you’re going to work 14–15 hours a day, and by the way, you’ll never know what hours those are – sometimes you’ll start at noon and work until 3 a.m., other times you won’t know when or where it will be [until the last minute].’ It can be very difficult; it requires an amazing amount of stamina. It’s easier to do if you’re still reaching for the stars, it’s a lot tougher if you’re already a star, if you’ve already reached the top of the mountain.”
Producer Jay Daniel talked about the difficulties between the co-stars in the later seasons:
“Well, I was the guy that more often than not would be the one that would go into the lion’s den when they were having disagreements. I’d sort of be the referee, try to resolve it so that we could get back to work. So, there was that side of it. Everybody knows there was friction between the two of them on the stage. In the beginning, Bruce was just a guy’s guy. Let’s just say he evolved. Over the years, he went from being the crew’s best friend and just being grateful for the work and all of that to realizing that he was going to be a movie star and wanting to move on. Part of that was because of his strained relationship with Cybill. That sometimes made the set a very unpleasant place to be. Cybill – I got along with her very well at times, other times I’d have to be the one who said you have to come out of the trailer and go to work. In fairness to her, she was in the makeup chair at six thirty in the morning with pages of dialogue she hadn’t seen before, she’d work very long hours, and then be back in the makeup chair at six thirty the next morning.”
The delays became so great that even ABC mocked the lateness with an ad campaign showing network executives waiting impatiently for the arrival of new episodes at ABC’s corporate headquarters. One episode featured television critic Jeff Jarvis in an introduction, sarcastically reminding viewers what was going on with the show’s plot since it had been so long since the last new episode.
The season three clip show episode “The Straight Poop” also made fun of the episode delays by having Hollywood columnist Rona Barrett drop by the Blue Moon Detective Agency to figure out why David and Maddie couldn’t get along, as the premise to set up the clips from earlier episodes. In the end, Rona convinced them to apologize to one another, and promised the viewers that there would be an all-new episode the following week. The show ended with a passionate kiss between Maddie and David standing behind the tiny Rona Barrett.
Shepherd’s real-life pregnancy and a skiing accident on the skiing slopes of Idaho, in which Willis broke his clavicle, further contributed to production delays. To counter these problems, with the fourth season, the writers began to focus more of the show’s attention on supporting cast members Agnes and Herbert, writing several episodes focusing on the two so that the show would be able to have episodes ready for airing.
RATINGS AND DECLINE
Moonlighting was a hit with TV audiences as well as with critics and industry insiders, with 16 Emmy nominations for the second season which saw Moonlighting tie for 20th place in the Nielsen ratings. In season three, the show peaked at 9th, then dropped off slightly to tie for 12th in the 4th season. By the end of the final season, the show was 49th in the ratings.
The show’s ratings decline is popularly attributed to Episode #14 of Season 3, “I Am Curious… Maddie”, which infamously had Maddie and David consummate their relationship after two and a half years of romantic tension. In commentaries on the third season DVD set, Caron disputed that the event led to the show’s decline, but that a number of other factors led to the series’ decline and eventual cancellation. In the fourth season, Willis and Shepherd had scant screen time together. Jay Daniel explained that:
We had to do episodes where there was no Cybill. She was off having twins. Her scenes were shot early, early on and then you had to integrate them with scenes shot weeks later. You were locked into what those scenes were because of what had already been shot with Cybill.
Bruce Willis was filming Die Hard during this period. When the film became a blockbuster, a film career beckoned and his desire to continue in a weekly series waned. In a series that depended on the chemistry between the two main stars, not having them together for the bulk of the fourth season hurt the ratings. Willis later thanks Cybill Shepherd in the DVD commentary, for getting pregnant so that he was able to go off and film Die Hard. The series lost Glenn Gordon Caron as executive producer and head writer when he left the show over difficulties with the production:
I don’t think Cybill understood how hard the workload was going to be. A situation arose with her, and at a certain point it became clear that… umm… suffice it to say I wasn’t there for the last year and a half.
Shepherd recalled Caron left the show stating that it was either him or her, and he did not think the network would choose him.
When Maddie returned to Los Angeles near the end of the fourth season, the writers tried to recreate the tension between Maddie and David by having Maddie spontaneously marry a man named Walter Bishop (Dennis Dugan), within a few hours of meeting him on the train back to Los Angeles. When Shepherd read the script, she strongly voiced her objection that her character would not do such a thing but was overruled. The move failed to rekindle the sparks between the main characters or capture the interest of the audience, which led to an even further ratings decline. Cybill was right in her view, as in previous episodes, she argued with David about being spontaneous. She believed in planning, looking before you leap and researching the pros and cons. So, this was not in character for Maddie to just get married on a whim.
GOOD THINGS MUST SOMETIMES COME TO AN END – CANCELLATION
Neither Shepherd nor Willis was fully committed to the final season of the show. Bruce Willis, fresh from his Die-Hard success, wanted to further his career and only make films. Cybill Shepherd, having just given birth to twins, had grown tired of the long, gruelling production days and was ready for the series to end.
In the 1988–1989 TV season, the show’s ratings declined precipitously. The March to August 1988 Writers Guild of America Strike cancelled plans for the 1987–1988 Moonlighting season finale to be filmed and aired on TV in 3-D in a deal with Coca-Cola and delayed the broadcast of the first new episode until December 6, 1988. The series went on hiatus during the February Sweeps and returned on Sunday evenings in the spring of 1989. Six more episodes aired before the cancellation of Moonlighting in May of that year.
In keeping with the show’s tradition of “breaking the fourth wall“, the last episode (appropriately titled “Lunar Eclipse“) featured Maddie and David returning from the celebration of Agnes and Herbert’s wedding to find the Blue Moon sets being removed, and an ABC network executive waiting to tell them that the show has been cancelled. The characters then race through the studio lot in search of a television producer named Cy, as the world of Moonlighting is slowly dismantled.
When they find Cy, he is screening a print of “In ‘n Outlaws”, the episode of Moonlighting that had aired two weeks earlier. Once informed of the problem, Cy lectures David and Maddie on the perils of losing their audience and the fragility of romance. Cy was played by Dennis Dugan, the same actor who had played Walter Bishop in Maddie’s marriage storyline — however, Dugan was also the director of the episode, so his acting credit was listed as “Walter Bishop”. His face is not seen in the episode, only in silhouette as he is watching the screen with the light of the projector behind him while he is smoking a cigar. David and Maddie then admit defeat that the show is ending but not before Maddie tells David ‘I can’t imagine not seeing you again tomorrow‘ and then we are treated to a clip montage of previous Moonlighting episodes and then it ends with a message stating that “Blue Moon Investigations ceased operations on May 14, 1989. The Anselmo Case was never solved… and remains a mystery to this day.”
As the show had not produced enough episodes to gain a syndication contract, following its original run it was not widely seen until its DVD release, due to a push from Moonlighting Fans and a group of ladies who were determined to get Moonlighting to DVD. It occasionally appeared on cable channels targeting women (including Lifetime and Bravo in the US, and W in Canada) in the 1990s and 2000s. Bravo airings often featured new Claymation promos with Maddie and David using original audio clips from the series. The “Atomic Shakespeare” episode aired on Nick at Nite in 2005 as part of the network’s 20th anniversary celebration. The 1985 ABC Tuesday night line-up was honored with reruns of Whos’ the Boss?, Growing Pains, and Moonlighting, although “Atomic Shakespeare” was from the ’86-’87 season.
BBC Two initially carried the show in the UK from 1986 to 1989, and it ran on Sky1 circa 1991. It has been shown on CB Drama since November 2009. Between 2005 and 2008, the show was frequently shown on the now defunct channel ABC1. In Asia, Moonlighting began airing Seasons 1 and 2 on Rewind Network’s HITS channel in December 2013.
AWARDS AND NOMINATIONS
Moonlighting was nominated for a wide range of awards, including nominations for 40 Emmy Awards of which it won 7. It was also nominated for 10 Golden Globe Awards of which it won 3. Two of which was Shepherd and Willis winning in 1987 for Best Actor/Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy.
PRIME TIME EMMY AWARDS WINS
|1986||Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Series||Neil Mandelberg|
|1987||Outstanding Lead Actor in A Drama Series||Bruce Willis|
|1987||Outstanding Costumes For A Series||Robert Turturice|
|1987||Outstanding Achievement In Hairstyling For A Series||Kathryn Blondell & Josee Normand|
|1987||Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Series||Roger Bondelli & Neil Mandelberg|
|1988||Outstanding Costumes For A Series||Robert Turturice|
|1989||Outstanding Art Direction For A Series||James J Agazzi & Bill Harp (Womb With A View)|
HOME ENTERTAINMENT – DVD RELEASES
Anchor Bay Entertainment released the original pilot episode on DVD in region 1. Lions Gate Entertainment later released the entire series of Moonlighting, including the pilot episode, on DVD in Region 1. Each release contains bonus features including commentaries and featurettes. As of 2013, these releases have been discontinued and are out of print.
In Regions 2 & 4, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has released all 5 seasons on DVD, although the Region 4 sets are now out of print. A complete series box set was also released in Region 2 on September 14, 2009.
The series is noticeably unavailable to stream, rent or buy on any service due to the costly music licensing.
|DVD Episode||Episode #||Release Dates R1||Release Dates R2||Release Dates R3||Special Features|
|Moonlighting – The Pilot Episode (1985)||1||January 25, 2000||Bruce Willis’s Original Screen Test, 12-Page Booklet which includes Photos, Bios, & Cast/Crew Lists, Audio Commentary with actor Bruce Willis and creator Glenn Gordon Caron|
|Seasons 1 & 2||25||May 31, 2005||October 6, 2008||March 21, 2006||“Not Just a Day Job, the Story of Moonlighting, Part 1”, “Inside the Blue Moon Detective Agency, the Story of Moonlighting, Part 2”, “The Moonlighting Phenomenon”, Select Episode Commentaries|
|Season 3||15||February 7, 2006||April 20, 2009||March 7, 2007||“Memories of Moonlighting”, Select Episode Commentaries|
|Season 4||14||September 12, 2006||June 22, 2009||July 17, 2007||Select Episode Commentaries|
|Season 5||13||March 6, 2007||September 14, 2009||November 15, 2007||“Maddie And David In The Making”, Audio Commentaries|
Riptide, a once-popular detective series whose ratings had declined to the point of cancellation after airing against Moonlighting in the 1985–1986 television season, aired an episode (the show’s penultimate) in 1986, in which that show’s detectives acted as mentors to “Rosalind Grant” (Annette McCarthy) “Cary Russell” (H.Richard Greene), the bickering stars of a television detective show pilot. Although their names were an allusion to Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, the characters were written as parodies of Shepherd and Willis, even adopting some of their real mannerisms and clothing styles, and their dialogue contained many nods, both obvious and subtle, to Moonlighting‘s writing style. The episode was explicitly promoted by NBC (Riptide‘s network) as a Moonlighting parody and was publicized as such widely enough that Riptide‘s producers felt obliged to clarify that they liked Moonlighting and intended the episode as an homage. The episode was even titled “If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em”.
Alvin and the Chipmunks parodied Moonlighting in the Season 6 episode “Dreamlighting”. In it, Brittany has a dream and becomes “Bratty Hayes,” and Alvin becomes “David Alvinson”, detective team. The plot revolves around Alvin trying to stop Brittany from marrying an evil villain – played by Simon.
The series even spawned a porn parody entitled “Moonlusting” in 1987, directed by Henri Pachard and starring Taija Rae as Hattie Mays and Jerry Butler as David Madison, together running the New Poon Detective Agency. The dynamic of the main characters mirrored that of Shepherd and Willis, even down to breaking the fourth wall and addressing viewers directly.
In the first live action “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” film, Moonlighting is mentioned in comparison when Judith Hoag (who plays April O’Neill) and Elias Koteas (who plays Casey Jones) walk into different rooms slamming their respective doors, a behaviour commonly exhibited by the main characters in Moonlighting. Two of the Ninja Turtles witness this behaviour while sitting in the living room and one of them says; “Gosh, it’s kind of like, Moonlighting, isn’t it?”
THE MOONLIGHTING SOUNDTRACK IS RELEASED
Moonlighting: The Television Soundtrack Album was produced by Phil Ramone and Glenn Gordon Caron. It features songs performed on the show by series leads Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis, and of course more importantly the very popular series theme song performed by Al Jarreau. That single peaked at number one on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart on July 25, 1987. Other songs include Chubby Checker’s “Limbo Rock”, The Isley Brothers, “This Old Heart of Mine (is weak for you)”, and “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge.
|1.||“Moonlighting” (opening and closing credits, September 1987-May 1989)||Lee Holdridge, Al Jarreau||Al Jarreau||3:00|
|2.||“Limbo Rock” (S02E05 “My Fair David”)||Billy Strange, Kal Mann||Chubby Checker||2:23|
|3.||“This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)” (S02E06 “Knowing Her”)||Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland||The Isley Brothers||2:51|
|4.||“Blue Moon” (S02E04 “The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice”)||Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers||Cybill Shepherd||2:19|
|5.||“I Told Ya I Love Ya, Now Get Out!” (S02E04 “The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice”)||Herb Ellis, Johnny Frigo, Lou Carter||Cybill Shepherd||2:03|
|6.||“Good Lovin’” (S03E07 “Atomic Shakespeare”)||Artie Resnick, Rudy Clark||Bruce Willis||3:15|
|7.||“Since I Fell for You” (S03E11 “Blonde on Blonde”)||Buddy Johnson||Bob James, David Sanborn, Al Jarreau||5:48|
|8.||“When a Man Loves a Woman” (S03E14 “I Am Curious… Maddie”)||Calvin Lewis, Andrew Wright||Percy Sledge||2:48|
|9.||“Someone to Watch Over Me” (S03E13 “Maddie’s Turn to Cry”)||George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin||Linda Ronstadt & The Nelson Riddle Orchestra||4:06|
|10.||“Stormy Weather” (S03E14 “I Am Curious… Maddie”)||Harold Arlen, Ted Koehler||Billie Holiday||3:38|
Moonlighting The Podcast
All about the 80s TV Show Moonlighting